Spike Lee's movie BlacKkKlansman gets huge standing ovation at Cannes

Ben Arnold
BlacKkKlansman (Credit: Universal)

Spike Lee’s new film BlacKkKlansman scored itself a massive standing ovation – reports range from six to 10 minutes – following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last night.

The movie stars John David Washington and Adam Driver as an African American and a Jewish detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1979.

Based on real events, as detailed in the book Black Klansman by former detective Ron Stallworth, the movie also features Topher Grace playing the racist group’s former ‘grand wizard’ David Duke.

It’s thought that the movie could find Lee in line for the best director prize, and the film itself a contender for the Palme d’Or.


John David Washington, Topher Grace, director Spike Lee, cast members Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Jasper Paakkonen, Damaris Lewis, Corey Hawkins. (Credit: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)

He was famously passed over for the festival’s feted prize in 1989, when he unveiled his celebrated Do The Right Thing.

Among those in attendance for the premiere were Ava DuVernay, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Nolan and Kristen Stewart.

Though only a few reviews have dropped so far, they’re largely complimentary, noting Lee’s use of footage from last year’s violence at the right-wing march in Charlottesville within the period action.

“Lee hits his targets effectively enough – again and again. They keep popping back up like the targets in a fairground shooting gallery, and get shot back down again with a clang. In this movie, serious and funny clash into each other like experienced WWE wrestlers,” writes Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian.

“It responds fiercely, contemptuously to the crassness at the heart of the Trump regime and gleefully pays it back in its own coin.”

Vulture calls it ‘stylish, hilarious, and utterly uncompromising’, while The Hollywood Reporter adds that ‘Lee and his writers have thrown as many logs on the fire as they’ve been able to find to signal the persistence of racial injustice; they have also endeavored, and mostly succeeded, to entertain’.

Per Vainty Fair: “BlacKkKlansman’s joke is an indictment of complacency, particularly that of white liberals who’d rather not confront the distressing fact that not much has changed in 40 years, beyond a re-styling of old, old ideology.”

The movie is due out in the UK on August 24.

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